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Ergonomic Seating for Biomedical Research


The Galveston National Laboratory (GNL), part of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch, opened its new 186,000 sq ft biomedical research facility in November 2008. Laboratory space within the GNL totals 48,000 sq ft and includes level 1 through 4 biocontainment areas, with 12,000 sq ft dedicated to a high-level BSL4 lab for studying the most dangerous pathogens.

Within this state-of-the-art facility, an extraordinary group of scientists are engaged in efforts to translate research ideas into products aimed at controlling emerging infectious diseases and defending society against bioterrorism. Pathogens being studied include anthrax, avian influenza, bubonic plague, hemorrhagic fevers (such as Ebola), typhus, West Nile virus, influenza, and drug-resistant tuberculosis, among others. (Photo (c) Hedrich Blessing Photography 2009. The Galveston National Laboratory) 

Unique Environment with Unique Requirements

Equipping a medical biocontainment laboratory demands some unique requirements when selecting ergonomic seating. Any chair that will become a part of the lab and be used in a caustic and potentially hazardous environment must be carefully evaluated as to its suitability. Routine exposure to formaldehyde gas and decontamination capability must be considered.

Representative seating samples were acquired from several manufacturers. Each was evaluated by GNL staff and rated for comfort, style, ease and extent of adjustments, durability, resistance to chemicals, and the ability to be decontaminated. After careful consideration, the Model 7501D, manufactured by Bevco Precision Manufacturing Co., Waukesha, WI, was rated the best. Ultimately, 300 of them were specified and an order was placed.

“The comfort levels were noticeably superior to the other chairs that we tested,” said  Andrew McNees, Ph.D., the assistant director. “We especially liked the softness of the Polyurethane material used for the seats and backs of this chair. It’s not too rigid.” GNL staff members routinely spend long work sessions at bio-cabinets, which are designed in a way that considerably limits movement.  (Photo (c) Hedrich Blessing Photography 2009. The Galveston National Laboratory) 

“Researchers remain stationary for extended periods of time, wearing a specialized protective suit and headgear that is sealed and connected to a designated airflow system for the researchers’ safety. The Bevco chair is not slippery,” says Dr. NcNees. “It grips, which enhances good posture and provides the staff with a high comfort level while working at these bio-cabinets. The molded pattern of Bevco’s seats and backs allows for effective ventilation, which contributes to the comfort of this chair. We also expect these chairs to hold up well when exposed to formaldehyde gas, although this was not tested.”

Designed for Comfort and Service

Bevco’s Series 7000 polyurethane chairs are designed for maximum comfort and long-lasting service in a laboratory environment. They are durable, with advanced ergonomic features that offer total body support, contributing to enhanced productivity with less fatigue. The molded self-skinned seats and backs are stain- and puncture-resistant, with a ribbed pattern for improved ventilation.

Additional features of Bevco’s Series 7000 include:

  • easy-to-use pneumatic height adjustment,
  • ergonomic waterfall seat design,
  • fully adjustable contoured back,
  • 360 deg swivel
  • sturdy 5-legged molded or tubular base.

Each chair also comes with an exclusive full 12 year warranty.

Among the options for Series 7000 chairs are articulating seat and back tilt for maximum ergonomic benefit, choice of glides or casters, adjustable armrests with polyurethane arm pads, larger 20 in. dia adjustable footring, Class 10 cleanroom and ESD models, and choice of blue, grey, or black seat and back colors.

According to Dr. McNees, the Bevco 7501Ds are an important addition to the GNL facility. “The chairs from Bevco are serving our needs well, as expected,” he said.

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